Vice-Chancellor appointed Chair of research institute

Professor Dame Julia King

26 November 2015

Aston University’s Vice-Chancellor, Julia King DBE, Professor The Baroness Brown of Cambridge, has been appointed the chair of the £235m Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials, Chancellor George Osborne announced this week. 

Baroness Brown is a leading expert and Government advisor on education and technology in engineering. She will act as independent Chair of the Institute, which has its hub at The University of Manchester and spokes at the  founding partners, comprising the universities of Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London. 

The Institute will allow the UK to grow its world-leading research and innovation base in advanced-materials science, which is fundamental to all industrial sectors and the national economy. 

It is also seen as a crucial element of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative, an attempt to boost economic growth in the North of England and balance the UK economy.

After sixteen years as an academic researcher and university lecturer at Cambridge and Nottingham universities, Baroness Brown joined Rolls-Royce plc in 1994, where she held a number of senior executive appointments, including Director of Advanced Engineering for the Industrial Power Group, Managing Director of the Fan Systems Business, and Engineering Director for the Marine Business.  

In 2002, Baroness Brown was appointed Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics, and in 2004 she returned to academia as Principal of the Engineering Faculty at Imperial College, London. In December 2006 she became Vice-Chancellor of Aston University. She has recently become a member of the House of Lords.

Baroness Brown is a member of the Board of Universities UK and Chair of its Innovation & Growth Policy Network, a Council member of the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, and a member of the Board of the Directors of the National Centre for Universities and Business.

Welcoming the appointment, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: “Julia is a remarkable individual-an accomplished engineer, who has worked for Rolls Royce for a number of years, has held positions at Cambridge and Imperial and has been vice-chancellor of the University of Aston since 2006.” 

The Institute will focus on 10 key areas of materials research, which are grouped into four themes – Energy, Engineering, Functional and Soft Materials – critical areas to underpin the government’s industrial strategy, resulting in economic growth throughout the UK.

The Institute will galvanise the economy of the North of England, and the UK more widely, whilst ensuring that the UK leads the world in the development and application of advance materials.

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